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Chateau d'Yquem

yquem.jpgChateau d'Yquem sits alone as the greatest of all Bordeaux properties - both officially and unofficially - and indeed stakes a valid claim to the world's greatest wine producer.  From its hilltop position in the heart of Sauternes (and 'hill' is always a relative term in Bordeaux - d'Yquem reaches about 75m in height - not much higher than its neighbours) it has around 100 hectares of vineyards, planted to 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc, although the proportions in most wines contain a higher percentage of Sauvignon Blanc.

Despite its relatively large size, only around 5,000 cases are produced each year, with some vintages (most recently including 2012) deemed not worthy of production of any wine.  Multiple 'tries' are undertaken through the vineyard each year to harvest grapes, usually about half a dozen, but in certain years more than 20 separate picks have been completed.

Chateau d'Yquem is rightly considered a luxury item, and appropriately it is today owned by luxury goods maker LVMH following a somewhat bitter acquisition dispute with the Lur Saluces family, the former owners.  LVMH also own Chateau Cheval Blanc.  In 2011 a bottle of the famed 1811 Chateau d'Yquem was sold at auction for 75,000 pounds - the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold.yquem-bottles.jpg

Once harvested, the grapes are pressed three times, extracting the sweet juice, before being placed in to new barriques where the wine is left to ferment and gently mature over around three years.  The winemaking is remarkably simple and straightforward - the magic is entirely from the grapes themselves.

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